Since my last blog I have had one race meeting at Croft. Just before it I finished all my A Level exams and have now officially left college. As such I have now got a bit more time on my hands to find the sponsorship to race which should mean that I get to do more of what we all love.
So after finishing my last A Level exam on Thursday morning I went to Croft to help set-up. By the time I arrived the Max Coates truck which was to accommodate Tom Jackson was set-up and ready. The RedBrick guys didn't turn up until a little later on, however we got the awning up before dark and fitted a track walk in with Dad.
The first test on Friday was tricky. It started dry and I was bedding in the new pads and discs that had just gone on the car. After about four laps of doing so it started raining and I had no tyre temperature. I therefore pitted but was sent back out on the slicks, which was treacherous. I managed to survive the lap after having a sideways moment down every straight never mind through the corners.
The second session was more representative of a proper session. It was wet from the off, very wet in fact. The major issue was the standing water which never cleared. The main issues were at the first corner, on the exit to Tower then through the Esses and Barcroft at the back of the track.
Qualifying was held in dry conditions, my first laps were all quite slow with traffic. I pitted when the team put the pit board out. We were 2nd with a good time back to 3rd, it was a decision to either 'park it' and keep the tires or try and find the 1.2 seconds we needed for pole. I went out and tried my hardest and finished 2 tenths off. I had made a small mistake on my lap, I was happy enough though.
I started the 1st race badly slipping back to 3rd. Mark Davies got a bit of a gap when I was behind Rob Gaffney; I got through at Tower and began to close the gap. I caught Mark in about 3 or four laps. I was struggling with traction on the exit to the hairpin. Eventually I found a way through at the hairpin with a switchback move. Mark pounced back immediately with another switchback at Tower. I knew that to pass him I had to do something very different, I lined a move up at the complex and then went for it on the next lap. When I left Sunny out I put Mark on the inside by having a look on the left hand side. I then went to the outside of the track and braked as late as possible, I managed to get all the way around the outside of Mark which put me on the inside for the right-hander at the complex. I held on to take the win but didn't realise I had won the race until the back straight. My mirrors were full of a grey G50 and I completely missed the chequered flag.
I can't really remember what happened in the 2nd race. I was defending all over. I was quicker than Mark through the back section of the track; he was faster through the first few corners. With about 10 laps to go I felt an odd vibration. The vibration got progressively worse and then it became a droning noise too. With about 5 laps to go I thought about pulling in but I couldn't bring myself to do that when I was leading. I managed to hold Mark off and eventually he made a mistake, with a couple of second's gap I tried to slow to conserve the car and tyres. At the first corner a big bang and a sudden loss of power meant I had to retire, the prop shaft bolts had sheared, that was the course of the vibration and the noise. I was so frustrated, to come so close to victory and then to retire through a mechanical issue on the final 2 laps is one of the most soul crushing things that can happen.
The final race was comparatively short, I made a great start and knew that if I had a chance at winning I had to have a good first 3 laps and get on the back of Mark as quick as possible. My confidence going into that race so unbelievably high, I was in a 'happy place' in my emotions and I just felt that nothing was going to stop me. I was passing cars left right and centre. I managed to get into 3rd in two or three laps. When I was on the back of Rob I made a lunge into Tower and then immediately after I just scraped the tire stack at the esses. It ripped the steering off the car and I went straight on into the corn field. My frustration this time was even greater than the first because it was my fault and such a simple mistake. I had to bottle my frustration until a long time after because I had so many people there to support me. Coming back on the recovery truck past the fans and then pulling up outside the awning was just gutting.
Now it's onwards and upwards. The budget for the rest of the year is very tight, it is looking like some races will be possible and others will not be. As much as I want to race this year I am also focussing myself on next year's Ginetta G55 title challenge. At the current time most companies set their budgets for the following year, therefore this is the best time to be presenting sponsorship proposals to companies. Hopefully we'll be out again this year.
Finally a massive thanks to everyone who came out to support me at Croft, the amount of people that came out to see and support me helped me through the emotional rollercoaster.